not exactly

Thursday, March 03, 2005

 

the most important book i've ever read to date

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen (don't quote me on the author; going by memory).

I promise that my feelings about it were not influenced, either positively or negatively, by the fact that I read most of it lying on a beach in Cancun. To contradict my previous statement, the only way for it to hit harder would've been if I read it during my sociology class. Feel free to infer that my "professor" is biased to the point of lying outright.

This week: Growing up Gifted, a book that looks more like a textbook than anything, and Hoofbeats and Society, a so-far utterly satisfying anthropological look at the relationships between horses and people. The first chapter, about the Creek tribe (both historically and today), just about convinced me to move to a reservation with my trusty steed and never leave. If you like horses or history or both, read it.

Monday, February 07, 2005

 

bill gates infallible logic strikes again

This is a Windows XP error I received yesterday upon trying to reboot my computer (ok, so it's not verbatim, but you get the gist of it):
Windows can not detect a keyboard or you do not have one connected.

Press F1 to continue...


I pressed F1. My computer continued.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

 

i went through the trouble of propositioning and robbing a prostitute, and all i got was this stupid t-shirt

I stumbled upon some sort of online Chinese news source. I've only read two articles, but neither of them make much sense to me. I really hope it's bad translation and not actually the kind of "news" people are subjected to in China.

In this piece, entitled Treacherous Love Online, Xu Feng solicits prositution on the internet, drugs the prostitute with sleeping pills, steals her purse, and leaves her at the hotel to wake up the next morning. According to the article, Xu did this because his mother started rationing his paycheck after he got involved in a long-distance (internet) relationship. She had him down to less than $40 a month, so he needed to steal some money for...who knows. He didn't think what he did was wrong. (Amusingly, the bag he stole from the hooker only had $6 in it.)

It's also interesting to note that the article makes it very clear that Xu was a smart guy, graduated from university and everything, and apparently in the eyes of many Chinese this makes him above doing stupid things like stealing from a prostitute. In America, where any idiot can go to college and become president, this isn't much of a surprise occurrance--and certainly not enough to warrant anything but a tiny mention in the community section of the paper.

Mostly I just have a lot of pretty bizarre questions about Chinese culture now, such as: is this considered a normal mother-son relationship? If he's graduated from university, he's at least 20, and his mother still has the power to "ration" his money? Is prostitution legal in China? Are they ahead or behind us that they think online relationships are so goofy? Do they really believe that getting a good education will make you a better person? Was the woman raped? Would this news source be censored in a way to not say so if she was?

And why don't they hire a better translator?

 

if he ever was my president, he's not anymore

I'm with Trey on this one.

I didn't watch the State of the Union--bad blogger, I know--but according to Avi & Kelly's Law (of television), at any given time, somewhere on my digital cable, an episode of Law & Order: SVU is on. 8:00 central time on Tuesday, this proved true and I definitely enjoyed the views of Olivia and Elliot as they did whatever they do.

Trey recapped what I knew Bush was going to say, anyway.

Two years in a row now he has said, in effect, that he want's to enshrine in the highest law of our nation a ban to my equality, forever. No recourse to the courts, no recourse to my state or national legislatures. No, my equality, my family's equality, he wants banned forever. And he announces it in the most important speech of the year. Twice, in case we forgot...

No, he lost me. He is no longer my president. It's not that he has ignored me as a citizen (no, Reagan did that), or abandoned me (Clinton did that), no.. he has singled out me and family as citizens worthy of contempt, enough contempt to forever block my equality and our family's dignity...

He is no longer president.

Read the rest of Trey's post. It's beautiful, just like the rest of his blog.

Bush may have a mandate (does he think he will ever live down that comment?), but the 49% who didn't vote for him are hard at work convincing the 52% of us who were confused and thought they were voting for Nadar that this whole reelection thing really wasn't that good of an idea. I'll just repeat what all of you already know: Bush is not a smart man. Bush is running the country with his Bible instead of his head, much like Clinton ran it with his dick instead of his head. Bush seems to like making a whole lot of Americans really, really cranky with him.

You know, I hadn't had this thought before, but I don't think I would be that surprised (or even upset) if he was assassinated. Yes, I would be upset in that vague indirect way that I am about every unfortunate death (or fortunate one, as the case may be); but in the end, I think the country would be better off without Bush. The country would be better off with someone dedicated to expanding and protecting the rights of all people, not just a select few. The country would be better off if half its citizens realized that someday they could be the ones up against a witch hunt, and don't they want someone on their side then?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

 

because otherwise tuesdays suck

Three Things I am Thankful For Today:

1. People in my life who aren't flakes, even if there don't seem to be very many of them.
Variations:
a. People who can admit they are flakes
b. Me believing I'm not a flake
2. I found a trainer to work with my horse and me.
3. I actually feel like I'm accomplishing things and becoming a Productive Member of Society. This is a good feeling, even if it's against a lot of the things I believe in.

Friday, January 28, 2005

 

masochists and narcissists

No writer escapes the craft without becoming (or maybe he was to begin with?) both masochistic and narcissistic. I'm not talking about staring at himself in the mirror all the time or asking his lover to whip him (though I'm sure plenty of writers are those types as well). It's a bit more subtle than that.

You find it in all kinds of fanfics. Author's notes. Lengthy introductions a la Orson Scott Card. References to "the first author" in textbooks. The beginning of an internet publication with "I know I haven't written in awhile, but..." (see previous post if you don't know what I'm talking about).

See, authors are always a bit crazy. We know we're irrelevant and we know that no one cares how long it's been since we wrote or what kind of great excuse we have. All they care about (if they do) is what we've produced. If it's good, they will read; if it's not, try again.

The writer is both the ultimate extrovert and introvert, all in one package. To the writer, every piece of work is achingly revealing of him; to the reader, every piece of work is either irrelevant or achingly revealing...of the reader. People do not gaze upon a piece of art and say, "I think the artist was trying to tell me that he feels ____." Viewers look and say, "I feel ____. That is what the artist was trying to say"--even if that is the opposite of the truth.

Face it. People don't care enough about others to read in order to learn about other people. We read to learn about ourselves. We both read and write to look in a mirror, to see our own ghastly features reflected back at us. When we write we are forced to understand, and that's the scariest thing about it all. Once you've seen what you really look like, you can't turn back. Even if it hurts.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

 

so apparently homework isn't a myth

(Warning: There are several grammatical mistakes and a general feeling of "that didn't make much sense" in this post. Alas, it's my bed time and I don't care enough to fix it at this point, so slog through it--or don't--and don't criticise.)

Haven't written because, well, as the title says, homework really isn't an urban legend used to scare kids. Some teachers really do assign it, and in some classes you really do have to open your textbook every now and then. I can see that this grasshopper has many things to learn this semester.

Number one thing to learn is probably time management. Number two is how to work too much, take a really wimpy number of classes, get B's, and say cool stuff on this blog.

On the list for the next week: lots of reading for composition, a little stupid assignment for sociology, annotating for composition (which makes me want to kill myself), and listening to my human sexuality teacher tell me approximately 5,374 more times how she has a degree in psychology and we are only students, therefore we know nothing.

I also have this list of things to blog about:



And that's just the stuff I have on my dry-erase board.

For now, I'd just like to know who can answer this question:

What kind of human sexuality teacher would defend the validity of a sex survey done in 1990? I don't mean the validity in general, but the validity now. What do you think the chances are that, given the same survey, a random sampling of Americans would answer it in a much different way? Even VH1 could tell you that American values and views on sex has changed a helluva lot in the last 15 years.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

 

harvard president is a smart, smart man

Lawrence Summers "deeply offends" members of a working lunch during a private economic conferance by (allegedly) inferring that women just aren't as smart as men. Of course, no one can prove what he actually said because Summers didn't allow a taping or any sort of transcript of the discussion to be made.

The second point was that fewer girls than boys have top scores on science and math tests in late high school years. ''I said no one really understands why this is, and it's an area of ferment in social science," Summers said in an interview Saturday. ''Research in behavioral genetics is showing that things people previously attributed to socialization weren't" due to socialization after all.

This was the point that most angered some of the listeners, several of whom said Summers said that women do not have the same ''innate ability" or ''natural ability" as men in some fields.


What, exactly, would be the evolutionary reason for men to understand science and math better than women? How would it help survival of the species for men and women to have a testably large difference in brain make-up, allowing boys to get those better scores? Or is it, after all, socialization that encourages boys--and not just encourages, tells them right out that boys are good at math and science and girls are good at that emotional chick-lit stuff--to explore the more technical subjects, right up until the moment they take the test? It could also be the socialization of learning styles. Every child has a unique combination of ways to learn things, but it's a long-held belief that girls and boys learn inherently different. Something that was easily explained away by biological gender differences could just as easily be explained away by nurture: boys are taught to respond to certain stimulus, to pay attention to certain teaching styles. Science and math are taught with boys in mind; "girly stuff" is taught to girls.

Boys are pushed and shoved towards math and science, while girls are gently but firmly held back, nudged in different directions. It's no wonder that boys do better on the tests.

And then Summer tries to backtrack:

Asked about this, Summers said, ''It's possible I made some reference to innate differences. . . I did say that you have to be careful in attributing things to socialization. . . That's what we would prefer to believe, but these are things that need to be studied."

Summers said cutting-edge research has shown that genetics are more important than previously thought, compared with environment or upbringing. As an example, he mentioned autism, once believed to be a result of parenting but now widely seen to have a genetic basis.


It's possible that he referenced these differences, which is precisely why five people attending the conferance (that's 10% of the attendees, guys, and who knows if all of them were at this lunch) got up and left. That's why many others were "deeply offended" by his comments.

The Autism example is ridiculous. It's nowhere near analogous to the differences between women and men. Autism is not what is considered a standard deviation of the norm. It's very normal--and possibly caused by socialization--when one child learns with his ears while another performs better after learning visually.

[Autism is caused by m]utations in a gene vital to brain development, say researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism (CPEA).


Autism does not occur in a certain demographic, like Summer implies this "innate ability" does. Autism is a freak accident in fetal development. Come to think of it, being male could be described as that, too.

Chalk this one up to "which president is he talking about again?":

''We are lucky enough to have a president who is capable and willing to have these discussions rather than talk in bureaucratese," Freeman said. ''I predict he will get more things done on women and faculty issues because he's a straight-talking, no-baloney president."


Similar comments have been made about Bush's many mistakes. "At least he's honest"; "he's a strong president"; "at least he's not indecisive"--right, that's great, if he could make the right decisions. Straight-talking, no-baloney only works if what you're talking about is in fact the good and honest truth. If you're spewing propaganda that has been declared not only false but ridiculously sexist in it's basic assumptions about women and men, you're kind of like the KKK, just not hiding behind a sheet.

 

texans sure do know bush!

Blogger ate my post on the whole Harvard president affair. I know I'm supposed to write it somewhere else, and I usually do, but the one time you deviate from your pattern--something goes wrong. Anyway, Amanda answers her home news station's Bush questionairre (she's a Texan, by the way).

24. What does the president consider one of his hidden talents?

Seeing the face of Jesus in imaginary weapons of mass destruction.


You know, that sounds like one for MoH. Or eBay. People see Jesus in a lot of things on both sites.

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